LONG ISLAND CITY — Dozens of local restaurants and a thousand hungry visitors will fill Gantry Plaza State Park next Tuesday for the annual food celebration Taste of LIC — the first major event hosted at the park since it was flooded by Hurricane Sandy last fall.
Sheila Lewandowski, who organizes the annual culinary festival, said she hopes it can help "launch the recovery" of the popular Long Island City waterfront park, which saw heavy flooding during the October storm.
"Since Sandy, this really is the first big community event in the park," she said. Many of the lights on the piers were without power until just a few weeks ago, and the state's Parks Department is still fixing two power outlets in time for the festival, she said.
"They're pretty sure they’re going to have them for Tuesday," she said, adding that she has a backup plan in place. "We're making this happen."
Lewandowski has been organizing the Taste of LIC for eight years as a fundraiser for her experimental nonprofit theater company, The Chocolate Factory.
"It started very small. We had 200 people the first year, and about 12 food and drink vendors," she said.
She expects more than 1,000 people to attend next week's event, which will feature 50 of the neighborhood's local chefs and food vendors for a one-night tasting gala.
Popular local restaurants participating in the festival include Hunters Point eatery Alobar and foodie-favorite M. Wells Dinette, plus dozens of others, offering participants a peek at the diversity of the neighborhood's culinary scene.
"You really can pretty much get anything here. You can have fine dining and you can have very casual dining," she said. "You have very high-end food, you have bistro cuisine, we have great delis. There's a lot of genres and the cultures are very different too."
In recent years, Taste of LIC has expanded to include eateries from other neighborhoods. This year's tasting will feature upscale Mexican food from Astoria's Pachanga Patterson and Australian-inspired eats from The Thirsty Koala, among others.
Tickets at the door for the 6:30 p.m. event cost $60, with proceeds supporting The Chocolate Factory's theater programming, including its artists-in-residence program.